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WHO calls emergency telephone meetings on SARS-like virus

July 6, 2013 at 1:58 AM   |   Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 6 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization said it organized emergency telephone meetings next week on the SARS-like virus, first recorded in Saudi Arabia.

WHO officials said they are convening an emergency committee under the International Health Regulations for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, or MERS-CoV. The emergency committee will meet July 9 and 11.

The emergency committee is made up of international experts to provide technical advice to the WHO director general in the context of a public health emergency of international concern.

However, the meetings did not mean WHO was upping its global alert level, officials said

Globally, from September 2012 to date, WHO has been informed of a total of 79 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection with MERS-CoV, including 42 deaths, mostly in Saudi Arabia, officials said.

Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections and to carefully review any unusual patterns.

Healthcare providers are advised to maintain vigilance. Recent travelers returning from the Middle East who develop severe acute respiratory infections should be tested for MERS-CoV, officials said. Specimens from patients' lower respiratory tracts should be obtained for diagnosis where possible.

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